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Friday, February 26, 2021

Qatar’s World Cup critics seek intervention from FIFA as elections near (updated)

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A crowd gathers last November at the labor accommodations of hundreds of expats who have gone on strike over pay conditions.
A crowd gathers last November at the labor accommodations of hundreds of Qatar expats who went on strike over pay conditions.

Updated at 11am to include comments from Qatar’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Updated at 12:15pm to include comments from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.

A week before FIFA elects its next president, rights groups have stepped up calls on football’s governing body to pressure Qatar into protecting its expat workforce from abuse.

In a new report released this morning, Amnesty International said FIFA needs to prioritize the rights of migrant workers as preparations for the 2022 World Cup accelerate:

“FIFA has a clear responsibility to act in the face of the evidence of labour exploitation, knowing that it is migrant construction workers and migrant service industry workers who are on the frontline in delivering the World Cup experience in Qatar,” the human rights organization said.

However, Dutch Football Association president Michael van Praag is the only candidate to have come close to calling for reforms in Qatar, and is rumored to be poised to pull out of the race as early as today withdrew his candidacy today.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

In contrast, incumbent Sepp Blatter has defended Qatar, saying there is “a great deal of discrimination and racism” in the criticism of the country hosting the 2022 World Cup.

Similarly, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan – a FIFA vice-president and one of Blatter’s challengers – has also supported Qatar:

“There is evidence that progress is being made in Qatar with the new laws that … are now being implemented,” he previously told the Associated Press. “I believe that the Emir of Qatar is committed to delivering the positive social change and improvements to conditions for workers that the international community and FIFA are demanding.”

The fourth contender, retired Portuguese footballer Luís Figo, has said there should be “zero tolerance” for corruption as well as human rights and labor violations without naming any specific countries, according to Amnesty International.

Joining its Gulf neighbors, the Qatar Football Association threw its support behind Blatter earlier this year.

Spotlight on sponsors

For the past several years, Qatar has been widely criticized for failing to protect its blue-collar workforce from abuse at the hands of their sponsors.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Frequently raised issues include unsafe worksites, unsanitary accommodations, non-payment of wages and illegal recruitment fees.

However, the companies building the actual World Cup stadiums and training facilities are required to provide their employees with a minimum standard of working and living conditions.

Human rights advocates have welcomed these requirements, but note they only apply to a fraction of the country’s labor force, leaving those who are building Qatar’s new roads, highways and hotels still vulnerable to mistreatment.

With none of FIFA’s presidential candidates taking a hard line on Qatar, the Gulf country’s critics have also asked World Cup sponsors to speak out.

This week, Visa said in a statement that it had raised the issue with FIFA:

“We continue to be troubled by the reports coming out of Qatar related to the World Cup and migrant worker conditions. We have expressed our grave concern to FIFA and urge them to take all necessary actions to work with the appropriate authorities and organizations to remedy this situation and ensure the health and safety of all involved.”

Previously, when World Cup sponsors expressed concerns about the 2022 tournament, the questions were largely limited to allegations of corruption surrounding the bidding process.

Amnesty update

The impact of outside criticism and public pressure on Qatar remains unclear.

Last May, authorities here pledged to reform the controversial kafala sponsorship system that has been widely blamed for enabling the abuses of expats by unscrupulous employers. But no timeline for the changes were set.

Qatar's labor minister
Qatar’s labor minister

Most recently, Qatar’s Labor Minister said he’s “90 percent” sure that reforms would be introduced by the end of this year.

In today’s report, Amnesty International said the country has made no significant progress in protecting the human rights of its foreign workers since the 2014 press conference.

“The pledges Qatar made last year are at serious risk of being dismissed as a mere public relations stunt to ensure the Gulf state can cling on to the 2022 World Cup,” Amnesty researcher Mustafa Qadri said in a statement.

Even in areas where Qatar claims to have made progress, Amnesty said nothing has actually changed.

For example, the human rights group noted that employers have been given six months to start complying with a law approved in February that requires them to pay their employees via bank transfer.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

That deadline can be extended at the discretion of the labor minister. The measure is intended to make it easier for expats and the government to scrutinize and document any late or non-existing payments.

Amnesty also noted that Qatar has fallen short of its goal to employ 300 labor inspectors by the end of 2014, up from some 150 in mid-2013.

In a statement released Thursday morning, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) said it disagreed with several of Amnesty’s claims and said that “significant changes have been made over the last year to improve the rights and conditions of expatriate workers.”

In addition to citing the new electronic wage payment requirements and multilingual kiosks for expats to lodge complaints, MOLSA said it now employs 294 labor inspectors and expects the number to reach 400 by year-end.

The ministry also said it “has continued to clamp down on companies and recruitment offices breaking our laws with fines and penalties.”

Nepal earthquake

Amnesty also argued that some Nepali workers in Qatar faced difficulty obtaining permission from their employers to return home following last month’s devastating earthquake.

For its part, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy – which is overseeing the construction of Qatar’s World Cup stadiums and training facilities – said the organization and its contractors “quickly came to the aid of workers” affected by the earthquake:

“Funds were raised by (Supreme Committee) staff to help the 500 Nepalese workers spread across our different projects and every request by Nepali workers on (Supreme Committee) projects to return home in the aftermath of the earthquakes has been approved, with more than 60 workers having their airfare covered by the relevant contractor.”

Nevertheless, Amnesty said that in the big picture, its hopes that the country would make concrete improvements to the living and working conditions of low-income expats are fading fast.

“We are one year closer to Qatar’s 2022 World Cup – time for changes to be implemented is running out,” Qadri said.

Here’s a full copy of Amnesty’s report:

Thoughts?

42 COMMENTS

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sadam
sadam
5 years ago

i came too early for the comments…

lol
lol
5 years ago
Reply to  sadam

MIMH didn’t come yet.

Meh :-(
Meh 🙁
5 years ago

Simple solution… Remove Qatar as the world cup host for 2022.
Failing that, if people are that outraged, then just don’t come to the world cup because you will be enjoying the stadiums built on the torture and death of innocent people.
I don’t know if this is possible but I guess the most effective solution is for the footballers to refuse to play. But I think deep down, no one really cares..too much money is at stake.

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago
Reply to  Meh 🙁

I think your last sentence sums it up quite succinctly.

asif
asif
5 years ago
Reply to  Meh 🙁

your are mistaken. the labors working for WC 2022 project enjoy a good atmosphere here. my several friends are working in same projects and live in Industrial Area. Realy, the workers in some other small companies are facing problems.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  asif

You mean the majority of companies in Qatar?

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago
Reply to  asif

You are mistaken. I could take you out into the desert and show you the workers quarters of a major Qatari contractor. 10 to a room in a building with a plastic roof and no aircon. Inhuman

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

It’s just so dispiriting to see the vested interests either blatantly lying or paying lip-service to the issues. Can we even trust Visa to be serious with it’s comments or is this just another bit of meaningless PR to deflect potential criticism? WC 2022 will take place in Qatar. FIFA will make heaps of money. Qatar will get it’s 15 minutes on the world stage. The workers will get virtually nothing.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Mmm, I have a bet with a friend. I have 20 that we will see the Americans put handcuffs on Blatter before 2019.

Scarletti
Scarletti
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

i hope you win !

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

If there WAS a God.

Malcolm Muppet
Malcolm Muppet
5 years ago
Reply to  Anonymouse

Apparently both Australia and the US have been told to stay on standby. Both have ample facilities, both originally bid and both have proven history of successfully hosting major international events.

Yummykarak
Yummykarak
5 years ago

The world cup is with Qatar and will probably stay with us. People went to the Brazil World Cup even though they had issues of evicting peoples for construction related to the World Cup. Also at the time people were protesting due to the fact that so much money was spent on the event rather than hospitals and schools. Add on that suspicion and investigation as to whether Brazilian politicians and contractors had stolen money and over spent and some of the money just went “missing” (most expensive World Cup as of now). Yet still people showed up and watched the games; didn’t see too many complainers.
I think it is a positive thing to have the World Cup held in the Middle East. I’m not saying that problems have not happened, and I am deeply sorry and sincerely hope things improve.
But, I do think that the idea of hosting the event itself has motivated Qatar in looking within to improve.

Gracie
Gracie
5 years ago
Reply to  Yummykarak

I think they have too many rules and restrictions with aspects to the religion. I heard they banned the playboy perfume, then they have the ‘you matter in Qatar’ thing about modest dress wear, then they have the whole limitation of pork and alcohol. So why host a world cup (full of drinking, hot dogs, nakedness etc) in a place where these things are frowned upon and disrespectful to the culture/beliefs. Just doesn’t make any sense. The world cup is better off in a more relaxed venue.

Phoe
Phoe
5 years ago
Reply to  Gracie

It’s called The World Cup, no reason why they shouldn’t represent more conservative countries. Football can be enjoyed while fully clothed and without a pork sausage in hand. The labor violations, now that’s an actual problem rather than it’s a conservative country.

Expat
Expat
5 years ago
Reply to  Gracie

Gracie, because football is not all about pork, getting wasted, and boob flashing! It is simple, if you or people like you don’t find themselves comfortable with the laws and culture here just don’t come! It really isn’t complicated at all!

procan
procan
5 years ago
Reply to  Expat

Agreed…… welcome to the Muslim World Cup all others stay home.

geist
geist
5 years ago
Reply to  Gracie

I didnt know the football world cup was all about drinking,hot dogs and running naked. I thought it was about playing football and enjoying the sport. Maybe next game we should ask Messi to come drunk and run naked on the ground.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  geist

Well different countries have different cultures, the south americans tend to like to wear relaxed clothing and dance a lot with a couple of drinks. Europeans tend to enjoy alcohol while supporting their team and Chinese, Japanese and Koreans like to eat pork products as snacks while watching football. It’s a World Cup so it is not right to discriminate against other cultures, that is just rude.

geist
geist
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I don’t think anybody is forcing anyone to come for the world cup. When I travel to Germany, I know there will be people who like swimming nude, when you go to China you know there will be people eating dog meat or even snakes or when you go to India, you will find people worshipping cows. Many of these you may not agree with but people still travel and make adjustments. that’s the whole point of respecting other cultures and learning. So if millions of tourists can do it, I’m sure many more can do the same when they come to Qatar. As for alcohol, stadiums around the world ban alcohol cause it was proven to cause more violent behaviour. People who are able to respect the laws will come. And I’m sure they are many who could easily do it. The ones having issues can always watch it at home. When the world cup was held in South Africa many were apprehensive about the security situation there. Still many travelled while others stayed back and watched it at home. The same for Qatar 2022.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  geist

BUT this is the World Cup and if you country is playing its not as if you can go somewhere else. You are forced to go to Qatar to watch your team as that is the country FIFA gave the WC too. Qatar when it bid realised the WC is about team and peoples from many different countries would have to enter Qatar. It is not a Qatar only even event or an Islamic WC, so they have to show tolerance to other cultures.

Anyway Qatar agreed to FIFA terms in the contract they signed which includes a provision of selling alcohol at all grounds and allowing the advertising of alcohol, so complain to the government for selling out principals you believe in.

zeit
zeit
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

The world cup happens every 4 years. So many never travelled to South Africa because of the crime rate. If they have a problem with Qatar, they can stay at home.

If Qatar has agreed to alcohol sales, what are these ones cribbing about? Anyways Qatar has “agreed”. We will see how its “executed”.

Khaled Saleh
Khaled Saleh
5 years ago
Reply to  Gracie

relaxed venue !.. i though WC is about uniting and sharing cultural and enjoying the beautiful game ! .. as for alcohol and pork i think u mentioned on one of ur posts that its obligatory to provide them.
the country have the right to operate and sets the way its distributed , you might buy a couple of bears from supermarket down the corner in your country, but in Qatar , you might go for a specific store or a hotel with some ID to prove that you are non muslim.people drinks and party too but in certain places ( hotels ) ,its all manageable.
respecting cultures and believes shouldn’t be from Qatar sides only , it should start from us , it has its own culture and reserves.

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago
Reply to  Yummykarak

You very well may be correct, but at the end of the day it isn’t Qatar’s decision. If there is enough pressure on FIFA they may well decide that the wise business decision is to cut their losses.

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago
Reply to  Yummykarak

What exactly has Qatar done to suggest that the WC has led it to “looking within to improve”? Certain foreign politicians raising the issue have frankly been lied to, Human Rights agencies have been ignored, journalists have been imprisoned, and all the time Qatar conducts a media campaign about “openness” and “improved conditions” and “imminent positive changes to the Kafala”. Eventually it will start to dawn on people that there is no will amongst the Qatari hierarchy (I wont stereotype the people) to change – exploitation of labour is not an economic necessity in Qatar – it is a culture.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
5 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

“journalists have been imprisoned” you mean the one who decided he didn’t need to wait for getting the permit to start filming? Or the one who decided to trespass on private property in the middle of the night?

As for lying and such, well, the ITUC has done it’s fair share of lying. Such as when they visited a stadium in Al Wakarah, took pictures of the custodian and workers there, and then claimed that the pictures were of 2022 stadium construction site!

As for exploitation and what causes it, it is caused here the same as it is almost everywhere: greed and selfishness.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
5 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

No he means, those who filmed camps that they were NOT supposed to film. Journalism is not a staged act Mr Abdulrahman. I mean, it is to you and to people like you. But, genuine journalism has no rules.

Trespassers? lol.. Please tell me you are joking. I mean, what ELSE could Qatar say to blame these people? Trespassing? Videotaping who? Shiekhs sunbathing in 50 degrees temps in their bikinis?? or Snapping pictures of Nuclear power plants???

Abdulrahman, Try to read between the lines. IF you are not allowed to criticize a country or royal group even online… Do you expect true journalism to be allowed sir??

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
5 years ago
Reply to  Akmal farah

Try to write something that’s not a fervent rant and maybe I’ll read it 😉

Haythem El-Wassif
Haythem El-Wassif
5 years ago

It is quite clear how European & Westerner policy makers are asking for the right things for the wrong reasons which is to secure more contracts of the 2022 programme amidst the vicious cycle of financial crisis
Many people are aware of the Qatari government determination to eradicate the notorious Sponsorship system but are held back by large business lobbyists but aren’t many Western companies making profit out of it as well . Why not lead by example and penalise those companies in their countries of origin for such unlawful treatment of the workforce by their standards before blaming Qatar & GCC.
I can’t wait to see an end to NOC system myself which is limiting my employment options but I think most of those campaigners are just hypocrits

Anonymouse
Anonymouse
5 years ago

Umm, the overwhelming majority of concerns are coming from NGOs – criticism from governments has been quite limited, most of it from other Asian countries – not sure why your are talking about policymakers. I think that leading by example has begun as the French have started a prosecution of Vinci for breaking European laws.

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

Rubbish.

Scarletti
Scarletti
5 years ago

perhaps the article ‘Promising Little, Delivering Less’ might be better titled ‘Promising More, Delivering Lies’ ? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-32821733

Bryan Mills aka Liam Neeson
Bryan Mills aka Liam Neeson
5 years ago

“Good Luck”

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

Can’t be bother to make any real comments its all so boring now, corrupt FIFA, corrupt Blatter who will ‘win’ the presidency again, nice comments from Qatar but no action, NGOs and other organisations highlighting problems, locals complaining its a conspiracy/racism against Qatar, blah, blah.
Nothing has changed, more rich people will eat lobster, drink champagne, travel first class and meet for conferences demanding change for the poor people who are dying. Qatar will either stay silent, arrest journalists or make meaningless statements. As we have seen in human history the only way that slaves are freed if the slave owners decide to free them. In Qatar businesses do not want to free the workers and in fact like the situation as it is. A few dead Indians means nothing to them or to India.

zeit
zeit
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Says cant be bothered to make a comment. Then makes a truckload of comments. At least honour your own words.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

Why don’t we just accept that FIFA will make lots of money out of the tournament and FIFA officals will become richer, Qatar will spend many billions on the WC which they can afford to do and some workers will die in Qatar in the next 7 years.
If anyone was serious about reform it would have happened now. We see what happens. Huge earthquake in Nepal yet Nepalese workers are denied permission to leave the country and go home, Sri Lankans accommodation burns down and they request to go home as they don’t want to work anymore. The police arrest them. These are not the actions of a country that wants to take reform seriously.

Shawn
Shawn
5 years ago

Pontificating has no value, make your voice count and speak for the voiceless.

Support http://www.playfairqatar.org.uk and http://www.newfifanow.org by signing their petitions to the major FIFA sponsors.

These sites have superb tools to send the sponsor CEOs emails and tweets.

So far the actions of these pressures groups are causing ripples, with VISA paying lip service to the issues raised. This a clear testament that with your support, however incredulous it may seem, an expeditious tsunami of positive change is possible.

Saad
Saad
5 years ago

why did not Doha news put up the statement by the government regarding the BBC trespassers? why do you’ll run only one-sided news against Qatar and the Arabs? the statement is in the Qatar News Agency since yesterday and published by all the newspapers elaborately. don’t be biased while presenting news.

al-Lalal
al-Lalal
5 years ago
Reply to  Saad

If anyone is running biased, one-sided news it is not DN it is the local press.

guest
guest
5 years ago

Qatar…you are losing valuable skilled manpower to your GCC peers…if you dont change you wont be able to deliver the ‘Amazing Things’…coz you have a deadline fixed by you yourself…

Diego
Diego
5 years ago

I feel it is appropriate that FIFA and other Organizations can draw attention to workers rights as they are related to WC.Saying that, Qatar is a Soverign State, so needs to act on its own and take on the challenge of being a regional up and coming powerhose.Should they escalate workers rights?Yes.I do not see FIFA as an organization that can dictate to a soveign state though. I do not see FIFA as an organization that is run properly and wonder why can’t they get rid of Bladder.

Scarletti
Scarletti
5 years ago

is the house of cards starting to fall? will it take Blatter and Qatar with it ? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32895048

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